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Long-awaited change coming to busy Wahoo intersection

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 8:53 PM CDT
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WAHOO, Neb. (KOLN) - A Wahoo intersection has a deadly reputation. Just this summer, three siblings all 18 or younger died in a crash there.

At that intersection, where Highway 77 and Highway 109 meet, cars move fast and many have said the current traffic controls, which are flashing lights and stop signs, aren’t good enough.

Wednesday, the Nebraska Department of Transportation announced some changes to hopefully make that area safer.

In just over a year, the intersection has claimed five lives, including Wendy Mach’s parents, Larry and Marty. Her dad, a longstanding member of the county board, was one of the first to propose changes to the intersection.

“A lot of emotions, it all comes back to life again,” Mach said. “It’s just you know dad fought so hard for this bypass to be done correctly but we can finally say you know we did it, something finally got accomplished.”

The first step, set to be added starting November 1, will be a temporary change: narrowing approach lanes, reducing speed limits in the area to 50 MPH, and installing road markings and rumble strips.

“NDOT has a new director and he was outstanding. You know he understood our concerns, our complaints, and understood the intersection,” Mach said. “He was more than willing to help us create a plan and to get this plan in motion.”

Next summer, the intersection, which Nebraska roads data shows sees over 10,000 cars a day, will begin construction on a roundabout, a design that NDOT said reduces the most severe crashes.

“It makes sense to the intersection and hopefully we can get the other side changed as well,” Mach said.

Mach said following the deadly crash this summer that took the life of 18-year-old Monica Chohon and her two brothers, 7-year-old Andrew and 11-year-old James, a recharged effort to see change picked up a lot of support within the community.

“You know this community pressuring local leaders to finally do something was huge,” Mach said. “You know no one was doing anything.”

NDOT said construction on that roundabout is set to start in the summer of 2022 because this construction season is already coming to a close.

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